Dan Jurgens has a storied career working as both a writer and artist for DC Comics, Marvel and more.
He not only wrote and created for Justice League and Green Arrow, but he created superhero Booster Gold and is one of the architects of the Death of Superman storyline from 1992.
The special 30th anniversary comic of Superman’s Death was just announced by DC, so we sat down with Jurgens and had a chance to talk about this story’s lasting impact!
Q – What got you into comics as a kid?
Dan – What first got me interested in general was the old live action Batman TV show with Adam West because I was like seven years old, when that came out.
And before that, I hadn’t really even known what comics were. And then one night, I discovered older kids in the neighborhood sitting on the front stoop with comics and I said, “Oh, those guys who are on TV are in these things?”
And so that’s what got me interested in the whole thing. And I think like most kids you cycle through phases of Batman’s the best. No, Superman’s the best. No, it’s Spider-Man, you know, so I think you end up being something of the culmination of everything you were exposed to.
Q – Do you remember like your first experience drawing and creating storylines? Like I’m sure you were probably pretty creative as a kid?
Dan – Even as a kid, I remember I’d start out by drawing single images. So, like here’s Superman flying or Batman jumping off a building or something like that. But then I’d think beyond that, uh, one of the things that also goes along with it is this idea of once Batman is jumping off building, why is Batman jumping off the building?
Well, that means you’ve got a panel that goes before that, where the Joker is knocking him off the building or something? So I was starting to write and draw my own stories.
Q – We just celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Death of Superman. What was it like to be involved in such a huge event in comics history?
Dan – As we were preparing the story, we had no idea it was going to become as big as it did.
And so once it happened, we were constantly on the phone with each other saying, “Can you believe this? Or have you heard about that? Or did you see this thing on TV?”
And I think, um, along with not knowing it would ever get that big, we couldn’t imagine that 30 years later, we’d still be here, still talking about it and the, that it would all stay in print and that we’d still be signing these things.
And you couldn’t imagine that different interpretations of it would be done in live action and animation.
Q – What was it like watching the event come to life in movies like “Dawn of Justice”?
Dan – That’s cool to see. It’s like, my first design of doomsday was like a two-inch high squiggly drawing that I just kept refining and then eventually ends up on the big screen.
When, you know, you do a scene in a comic like Lois holding Superman’s body and they replicate that on screen, it is amazing to see them actually do that and reinterpret what you drew in the first place. And, and that kind of validates your story in a way.
Q – The 30th Anniversary comic for Death of Superman was just announced. What is that like working with the team again on that?
Dan – Well, it’s always fun to get the band back together if you will. And it’s fun to see everyone’s work coming in … and to also be able to put kind of a spin of today on the story, which is, you know, basically, John, he’s at the age of nine and he’s in school one day and someone appears and wearing a black armband with the Superman’s symbol on it.
And he says, “I’m here to talk to you about the most famous day in the history of Metropolis, the day Superman died.” And John can’t just say, “What??!!!” Because he’s never heard the story. So by seeing it through his eyes, it’s a way for us to explain to readers kind of what it was all about.
If you were there 30 years ago, you remember the lines around the stores and everything that was going on at that time. you’re gonna get some warm nostalgia out of this, right? I mean, you’re gonna like it because of that. If you are a new reader who wasn’t there, I think we’ll be able to show you a little bit of what things were sort of like at the time and the craziness of it all.
Q – I remember being at my store and waiting for Superman 75 to come out. I guess this generation misses out on that like comradery and that essence of fandom.
Dan – Well, and you know, at that time there was no internet to speak of. And I think that allowed us to surprise the market in a way that would not be impossible today. And I think that was key to the success of our story, that people didn’t know what was necessarily coming around the corner.
And now that’s virtually impossible to do. I remember I was driving to a store to do a signing and it was a cold, wet November night. And, you know, I approached the store and there was a line outside the store and I thought what’s going on?
Like they couldn’t get in or something and the line went down around the corner and around the next block and down the street. And that’s what we all experienced. And that’s what every reader experienced.
Here we are, all this time later and is still something that’s being talked about … Back then, we did a story and that would be it, because things weren’t necessarily collected so that when we did the Death of Superman and they pulled it together as a collection, right before Christmas, a trade paperback for people to have, that was rare. I mean, usually you got your story printed and then you just went on to the next thing and it would be forgotten.
And now that is much more common and the idea that these stories endure. I think we all are very proud of that fact and take a lot of consolation in the idea that wasn’t a big thing yet it lived on for decades, but that it was also a really good story. What I always tell people is bad stories get forgotten, good stories live on.